EASTER IN THE BIBLE
As To Tradition of Celebration
Easter, with bunnies, baby chicks, and eggs amidst the resurrection of Jesus Christ – what do they have to do with each other? Is the origin of Easter biblical? What does the Bible say about Easter? What is the meaning of Easter? Should Christians observe Easter? A brief history of Easter tells us that the name “Easter” comes from the Anglo-Saxon, Easter, the name of the goddess of spring. Bunnies are symbols of fertility, while eggs were seen as pagan symbols of death and life.
As To Tradition of Celebration (The Way It Should Be)
And when hee had apprehended him, hee put him in prison, and deliuered him to foure quaternions of souldiers to keepe him, intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. (Acts 12:4 1611 KJV)
And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. (Acts 12:4 1769 KJV)
It is an interesting fact that the word EASTER is found in only both the 1611 King James Bible and the 1769 re-write (or as is referred to as the Standard/Authorized) King James Bible. All other Bibles to date and all others prior to the 1611 use the word Passover.
“Easter” isn’t marked as a translation of anything in the Greek. Did the KJV translators just stick “Easter” there randomly? No! That means there was a Greek word that the KJV translators left untranslated,pascha/pesach. “Easter” is a translation, but scholars indicate that pascha/pesach in this context simply couldn’t mean “Easter,” so they were unwilling to tie the two together! Whatever the reason the KJV translators chose “Easter,” the word means “Passover.” The question, then, is whether or not the word in Acts 12 refers to a Christian celebration or a Jewish one because “Easter” is a Christian word, “Passover” a Jewish one.
Among the 29 uses of pascha/pesach that could be applied in the New Testament, not one of them can clearly be used to speak of the Christian holiday of “Easter.” “The Easter festival” is a sense of the word pascha/pesach that developed only “in later Christian usage.” It’s very unlikely that “Easter” was a thing when Luke wrote Acts. That’s why no translations but one (KJV) use the word.
The word “Easter,” like the word “east,” comes from a word that meant “dawn,” which always shows up in the east. The Resurrection is associated with a new dawning. Greek’s pascha/pesach is directly related to the Hebrew word for “pass over,” the words used to refer to what the angel of death did in Exodus 12 when he saw doorposts with lamb’s blood. He “passed over” those homes. Most languages derive their word for Easter from their word for Passover; English and German are the big exceptions.
When one thinks of Easter throughout history and in the 21st century, what day do we think of? Sunday, most likely. Herod Agrippa I who ruled from 37 AD to 44 AD put James to death in the last year of his reign. However, what day did Easter fall on in 44 AD? Thursday. So as to Easter being held specifically every year on Sunday, Passover is actually tied to a calendar day in the year, not a specific day of the week.
Let’s look at the Bible to find the meaning of Easter and how it relates to the resurrection of Jesus. Romans shows us that baptism instead of Easter was given as a symbol of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Romans 6:3-5 says, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.” What we see is that the true meaning is more than just a memorial for the resurrection one day a year with a church service. We can even celebrate the resurrection as we allow Christ’s resurrection to become a reality in our lives as we live anew victoriously. Christ’s death and resurrection is a daily hope of how the good will of God can overcome the forces of evil, of how truth will prevail and unmask the lie, of how love will triumph over sin, and how the blessed hope of eternal life will even put an end to death one day.
So, is it wrong to celebrate Easter? Let’s make a clarification, is it wrong to remember the resurrection? No! It would be wrong to not remember it. Is Easter observance the way to do so? It would be remiss to not admit there is certainly a lot of pagan influence that has become tied to the resurrection in Easter. Nowhere are bunnies, chicks, or eggs mentioned in the Bible or in connection with Christ’s resurrection. However, where there is opportunity to share the message and gospel of Christ without compromising the biblical truth, the “wise as serpents, harmless as doves” counsel of Christ is appropriate. How to observe it should be considered carefully allowing Bible study and prayer to guide our decisions.
Let’s now take a look at the traditional Easter Dinner (to which many refer to as the Passover Meal) as to the actual Passover Meal (which is referred to as The Last Supper). An a-typical Easter Dinner may include either ham, chicken, or lamb as a main course. The dinner then would include potatoes, vegetables, salads, fruit dishes, breads, wines, and other sides all of various sorts, pretty simple, right? The Passover Meal (The Last Supper) in Biblical tradition is much more complex with all that is involved.
- The name says it all. The Last Supper was Jesus’ last supper with his twelve disciples before he was crucified.
- This supper is when the First Eucharist occurred. What a thought: First Eucharist at the Last Supper. Fascinating.
- As part of Eucharist (or communion), Jesus took the bread that was on the table, broke it in half (or close to half) and told his disciples to take it and eat it.
- The bread represents the body of Christ.
- After taking bread, Jesus then took the wine from the table and told his disciples to drink it.
- The wine represents the blood of Jesus.
- The Last Supper was actually foretold in the Old Testament. A “priest from God Most High” named Melchizedek “brought out bread and wine” And David said that Jesus would be “a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.“
- Jesus’ final supper was so important; Leonardo da Vinci depicted the scene in his famous painting titled The Last Supper.
- The painting itself is huge. It’s about 15 feet by 29 feet (4.6 x 8.8 meters).
- What’s interesting to note is there are groups of three in the painting, probably representing the Holy Trinity. Jesus’ figure resembles a triangle; three windows are seen behind Jesus; and the disciples are in groups of three.
- The painting itself is in terrible shape. Less than half of da Vinci’s artwork is still on the restored painting.
- The Last Supper is told in all four gospels, but there’s a different account of the supper in the book of John. He says that the gathering happened the day of Passover, while the other three synoptic gospels say that the gathering happened the day before Passover.
- One theory as to why the difference in dates is because they could have used different calendars. So, we should technically celebrate the Last Supper on Wednesday; churches now celebrate the Last Supper on Holy Thursday.
- To make things more confusing, Jesus may have used a different calendar than the rest.
- A few other incidents happened at that table. Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Jesus’ existence three times before the rooster crowed. Guess what Peter did a few days later?
- What’s better is that, during the meal, in a casual tone, Jesus said someone would betray him that night. This led to a mini-conspiracy theory for all the disciples to chew on. Turned out, Jesus knew it was Judas who would betray him.
- After supper, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and asked God not to go through with his crucifixion.
- What’s Passover? It’s a celebration to commemorate the exodus from Egypt.
- Passover explains why there was wine at the table of The Last Supper. There are four cups of wine at the table during Passover, each symbolizing something different.
- When Jesus went to the garden to pray, he told his disciples to stay awake and keep watch for an hour or so. They fell asleep, so Jesus yelled at them. It may have been from eating too much food at the Last Supper.
All told, Easter dinner as to the Passover Meal/Last Supper is a way of celebrating life. Did you catch that? LIFE! We as Christians need to remember that at all times because Jesus presented us with the bread and wine, thus the body and blood that is His. Again, did you catch that? HIS! All because of the greatest gift that God could ever give and that is the gift of love which is given for us. Once again, did you catch that? US! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
*NOTE: The preceding’s of these pages are only examples of reading to a much broader aspect to the subjects. I urge you to look further into this as the contents to what you will find are indeed fascinating, for there is much. In doing so, you will even find yourselves in the very Word of God (as it should be) as to the endless references therein. Also, lest ye not forget that He Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed! ALLEUIA!